Newgarden set for first Baltimore Indy start this weekend

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A year ago, Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing driver Josef Newgarden was forced to miss the Grand Prix of Baltimore due to a broken left index finger.

Now back and with a chance to race in the No. 67 SFHR Honda this weekend, he wants to break his recent string of poor luck. Gearbox (Sonoma), mechanical (Mid-Ohio) and a sensor malfunction (Toronto Race 1) have struck the car just in the last three race weekends.

“It’s very important to do well and finish these last four races strong,” Newgarden said. “It’s been difficult these last couple of weekends, but we will be on top of our stuff and if everything goes according to plan we should have a fast race car and be ready to get solid points for the rest of the year.”

Newgarden described some of the challenges he’ll face on the street circuit, where he finished second in Indy Lights in 2011 in his only prior Baltimore start.

“Baltimore is generally the bumpiest street circuit we go to all year, which brings its own challenges with trying to make the car work around there,” he said. “The curves and the front straightaways are just very bumpy and you can get airborne with the car.

His SFHR teammate from Sonoma, Lucas Luhr (pictured leading), is back in his normal environment of his Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD ARX-03c in the American Le Mans Series. Luhr’s IndyCar debut was halted with a late-race engine fire.

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”